All Blacks captain Kieran Read has passed the ultimate fitness test returning from injury in a successful first rugby outing with Counties Manukau

It was a red and black striped jersey we weren’t used to seeing on All Blacks captain Kieran Read as he ran on to the field for Counties Manukau today, but it fit him well.

After seven months on the bench following back surgery to free nerve pressure from a disc bulge which caused considerable leg pain, Read showed no signs of discomfort contributing to a 26-all draw against the Tasman Buccaneers.

“The body is actually alright it’s certainly tiring.” says Read.

“It’s going to be a step up when I go up to Super Rugby obviously but it’s nice to get a hit out I obviously need that after a long time out of the game.”

At number eight Read was fully tested taking the ball at lineouts, making and receiving tackles, and most certainly defending the line when Tasman pounced.

Although the end of the first half saw Counties down 12 to 7 it was a defining 40 minutes for the 32-year-old’s comeback and he was nothing but smiles walking off the field content with his efforts.

“Today was really about going out and getting contact, take a few hits, make some tackles and enjoy the game.” says Read

“I got through that with no adverse effects to the body so really happy with that.”

Read will play out the provincial season with the Counties Manukau Steelers after opting to switch from Canterbury to represent the area where he grew up.

Papakura-born Read has never represented the Steelers but is keen to get familiar with the side and make his father, who still lives in the region, proud.

“Counties Academy in 2004 was my last game here but not a great memory, I did my ACL that day.” says Read

“It was cool to play in front of Dad, I spent my life here growing up and he always took me along to growers on the bank so pretty cool to come back and I think he was pretty proud today.”

– RNZ

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